"I Will Build My Church"
I was once invited to give my testimony at two Sunday services in a well-known church. The practice there was to videotape both services and then release the better tape for broadcast.
I discovered that our ideas of what makes a "good" service reveals some deeply mistaken beliefs about the church.
During the first service that Sunday morning, something happened that can be explained only as an anointing of the Spirit. I lost all track of time—yet somehow finished exactly when the cue card was raised telling me my time was up. As I closed in prayer, people were actually kneeling at their pews, tears streaming down their faces.
A holy hush fell over the congregation.
Later, when the second service was about to begin, the pastor—whom I'll call Dr. Showforth—walked up with his assistant. The assistant coached Dr. Showforth to step up beside me this time during the closing prayer, put his arm around my shoulder, and beckon people forward to the altar.
But the second service was nothing like the first. Aware that I was expected to repeat the "performance," I was self-conscious, watching the clock. As I closed in prayer, the pastor stepped up next to me and gestured dramatically toward the congregation (and the camera).
The whole thing was too obviously staged.
Later I urged the assistant to use the first tape for the broadcast. "No, no," he insisted. "The second tape was much better, with Dr. Showforth in the picture."
I pressed the point; he continued to resist. Finally he raised his hand, like a cop holding back traffic. "You don't seem to understand, Mr. Colson," he said. "This is Dr. Showforth's church."
How often have you heard a pastor or a board of elders or deacons refer to "my church" or "our church." Most congregational squabbles arise over precisely this point: Who should make the decisions? Who should wield authority?
Whose church is it anyway?
Jesus answered that question decisively in the book of Matthew when He said, "On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
The church is not my church or your church—it is the church of Jesus Christ.
How easily we are impressed with ourselves and our own sense of inflated importance. How foolishly we seek our identity in offices or positions within the church. Yet where were we when God created His church?
If it were our church or ministry, we'd fall miserably short. Are you and I the instruments for making disciples, for making men and women holy, for the redemption of mankind?
The very idea is absurd.
Jesus said, "I will build My church"—and with those words He laid proprietary claim to the church. We don't decide how or what the church is or what its mission is.
"I will build My church." Those words should be posted over the entrance to every church building in the land.